Every year there's a 12k race in San Francisco called Bay to Breakers, tomorrow will be the 103rd running of the race. Its path starts from the bay and ends at the breakers (where the waves break at the ocean, not an 80's hip hop dance crew battling it out to Run DMC).
One year I dressed up as an apathetic coach, I wore warm-ups, a visor, and carried a whistle. I also had a bunch of participation awards - the most backhanded compliment if there ever was one - to hand out to the other drunk costumed people that obviously didn't come to run the race. Before I would give them an award I would ask them to "tell me something that you are mediocre at?" Let me tell you, people have a hard time admitting that they aren't very good at something. To help them stumble to an intoxicated answer I would throw out suggestions to jump start their brains:
"Telling your significant other that you love them and appreciate them in your life."
Most people deferred to "public speaking" some people said, "thinking while I'm drunk." I don't believe anyone claimed to be mediocre at drinking... Go figure, everyone was a professional drinker there. As I said before, a participation award is like a back handed compliment, a pity prize for attempting something but not even coming close. You can't brag about it because everyone else got the same thing.
If working towards retirement is like a marathon, then the participation award is Social Security. After 30 years of working you get back a part of what you contributed over the years. It might be enough to barely scrape by in some parts of the country but not most, and if you have any sort of emergency, you won't be able to cover it.
Saving for retirement doesn't happen overnight, you have to start slowly and let your savings grow for years, decades in fact. The longer you save the better chance you have at a comfortable retirement. Even if you can't save a lot, save something, your future self will thank you for it because when you're done working you want to make sure that you have more than just a participation award to show for it.